Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Love affair with Jesus

Watching my kids and their relationship with God has caused me to pause and consider some things.  I wonder how I am going to teach  my children to truly love God.  I mean, I love Him.  I love him more that I thought possible to love, yet I have no idea how to teach that to my children.

You know, a child has no idea how much his parents love him.  He loves them, he cares for them, but the depth of his love is on the shallow end of things.  It isn't tested love, it is love born of need and needs met.  It is love born of companionship and affection, but it isn't mature as the lover is immature.  It is completely self-centered, but it is all that the child is capable of, therefore it is fulfilling.

As the child grows into adolescence  the friendship love really begins to develop.  This affectionate love grows as his friendships grow. As he spends time with his friends he learns to appreciate differences, to love someone despite their faults, and to sacrifice.

Very soon afterward begins the romantic love. This is entirely different!  This kind of love fills every sense, aches the heart, and occupies the mind.  This kind of love is reckless and overwhelming!  All of the person's emotions are involved and reason is greatly diminished.

Finally, the child is an adult and (hopefully) has matured.  His love has matured.  Now he is married and experiences something different.  Those loves have converged onto his spouse.  The intensity of the romantic love has diminished, but it still ever present.  He trusts her, depends on her.  This love is tested by annoyances and frustrations and selfishness, but when done well, survives and thrives and is deepened.

Finally, they have children.  They hold their newborn babe and an entirely new kind of love is born.  One that is totally selfless and driving.  This love reaches down to the deepest part of the person.  They love that child and they do it with NOTHING in return.  They pour out their love, sink into it, and dwell there.  This is the love that keeps them from murdering their totally self-centered, sinful toddler! :)

When I look  at how I love my Father and Savior, I am so wrapped up in all of those stages of love!  There are times when it is totally self-centered.  I am like a babe in the arms of my Father: needy, greedy, seeking.  There are times when He is my friend above all.  An ear to listen to, someone to depend on.  There are times when I just enjoy His presence and want to just "hang out" with Him and His word.  I even experience a sort of romantic love with my Lord.  At least in the sense that I am totally overwhelmed with emotion.  When just the thought of Him brings me to tears my eyes and i can physically feel my love for Him.  I don't love Him like He's my child, but the depth of love that I have for him is very much like that.

One important thing.  Friendships break up, they die from neglect, marriages dissolve because of simple entropy.  My love for my Lord waxes a wanes a bit in direct relation to how much time I spend with Him.  There are mornings that I don't "feel" anything and others that I long for more time.  There are days when He is ever present in my mind and others that I hardly remember He is there.  It is a love affair!

I wonder how my children's love for the Lord will develop?  Will it mirror their love for us, their friends, their spouse?  Or, because "we love because He first loved us", will all of those other relationships mirror their love for Him?

I guess we'll see!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jenny's Job

This is Jenny here and I still get quite a few questions as to what exactly do I do here.  I wanted to give an update because some things have changed as far as my ministry in Guatemala.

My first and most important ministry is to my family right now.  I have 4 young children (3 here and one in the Congo) and a husband that does ministry full time.  A lot of my time is spent homeschooling, taking kids to events, washing laundry, planning menus, grocery shopping, reading books, making crafts, checking e-mails, planning curriculum, etc.  I do a lot of discipling of our children.

Another aspect of my ministry here that I didn't realize I would be doing is serving other missionaries and other missionary wives.  Last fall we had a Gringa Bible study here, I make meals for people, help run errands for people, take people to the doctor, translate for people, plan birthday cakes and baby showers, etc.  Because I don't have a job outside of the home, I am free to serve the other missionary families.  This has been such a wonderful part of what I do here because I remember what it was like when we first moved here and we didn't know how to speak Spanish, we didn't know where anything was, and we felt VERY isolated.  I no longer feel that way, and God is using me to alleviate that someone for some of the other missionary women.

As far as "normal" missionary work, I am still somewhat involved in an orphanage here, as well as helping with the Sunday school ministry at our local church.  Last fall I began teaching a sewing class to a group of girls at the orphanage, and I am about to start that again soon.  We took a break over the Christmas holidays and I have been trying to get my schedule set up to figure out when I will have time to go this year.  I finally have found a couple of books in Spanish that will function for me sort of as a guide in teaching.  Before, I was sort of winging it, and the orphanage kept asking me to teach them certain things.  That made me feel a little disorganized, so I will be going through a more formal routine starting soon.  In the mean time I have been making curtains for the boys' room at the orphanage.

At church, I have scaled back my involvement drastically so that now I am just a Sunday school teacher and I don't have to teach but once a month or so.  That frees me up to listen to the sermons on Sunday morning, which I greatly enjoy, and to focus on the kids because Brandon is busy teaching two Sunday school classes.

So, that about sums it up.  I am not sure if it sounds like I am busy or not, but I sure feel like I am.  There are days when I feel like there is so much that I have to offer that I am not doing.  I have all these great ideas and want to do so much more, but the reality is that the call of God on my life has almost nothing to do with my gifted-ness, my talents, or really anything about me.  It has everything to do with the character of God...who He is.  My job isn't to go searching for ministry opportunities as much as it is to just do what the Lord has put in front of me.  So for now, I'll keep being a mom and wife, I'll keep sewing and serving and praying.  And be so pleased that God has allowed me to serve Him!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Fast

We are missionaries with an amazing mission organization.  Camino Global isn't only wonderful because of its rich history ministering to Spanish speaking peoples. Not only is it wonderful because of its worldwide vision, and because of all of the incredible, godly missionaries who serve, but also because of a leadership that loves our Lord, that desires to serve Him above all else, and that challenges us to do the same.  This week (I believe), Camino leadership will be meeting to seek the Lords direction for the upcoming year(s).  I am sure that many mission agencies are doing that.  What is so wonderful to me, is that Doug Livingston, our president, asked the mission body to fast and pray along with the leadership, as they felt led, for a week in preparation for this time of planning. What an honor to get to participate!

I had  never done a fast like this before.  I am sort of ashamed to admit that.  I have always liked the "idea" of fasting, but never really felt like I needed to participate.  And here was an opportunity to share in this process with Camino missionaries, board members, and staff.  So after some prayer and consideration, I decided to participate with a partial fast. I don't know how arbitrary it was, but after seeking the Lord's guidance, I decided that I would eat no meat, no bread (or flour/corn/rice products), and no sugar.  Basically limiting myself to vegetables, beans, and some cheese.

I am writing this because I wanted to share with you what God taught me through that week of fasting.  The idea was to fast and pray...combined.  I can say that when I began my first day, I was completely overwhelmed with the desire to pray for Camino Global.  Every time my tummy grumbled in hunger, every carrot that I sliced, every piece of bread that I passed up, was accompanied by a prayer offered to my Savior.  On several occasions that first day I was moved to tears as I felt the Holy Spirit interceding through my prayers.  What a joyful and humbling experience!

Honestly, after that day, it wasn't quite as emotional, although it may have been more spiritual.  I had been praying for some time that God would help me be more aware of His presence throughout my day, being convinced that I needed to pay more attention to Him to really experience the fullness of life that He has given me.  All throughout the days I was more and more aware of His ever abiding presence with me.  What a blessing and a source of joy.  It was as if the lines between the physical body and my spiritual nature were torn down, even for just a little while.

I also became increasingly aware of my lack of discipline and self denial.  Before, whenever I felt the slightest pang of hunger, I would march down to my fridge or my pantry and select something to satisfy my urges.  If I was baking or cooking or even just standing in the kitchen while Brandon did, I munched, taking little bites here and there, simply because I wanted them and I could.  It is amazing to me how occupied my energies are in satisfying the pleasures/needs/wants of my physical body, compared to how little effort I spend nourishing my spirit.  This fast brought all of that to the forefront of my mind.

A little denial goes a long way.  I don't believe that God created us to satisfy every desire, appease every appetite, or gratify every whim.  I think that God desires us to practice self denial, to be aware of our real needs and satisfy them with thanksgiving in our hearts for His provision.  And since when was hunger bad?  That feeling of hunger that I work really hard at eliminating, made me aware of the frailty of my physical body, made me thankful for the stomach that I have, and reminded me to pray...to seek Him.

This was such a wonderful experience for me, and I am so thankful that I was given the chance to fast and pray along with so many others for the future of Camino Global.  I would really like to begin regularly incorporating the fast into my walk with the Lord.